SIND PRIVINCIAL CONFERENCE
6th Session, Jacobabad
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS BY JAMSHED N.R. MEHTA
18 APRIL 1919
Presidential Address by JAMSHED N.R. MEHTA on the eve of
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Reception Committee, Brother and Sister Delegates and friends.
I thank you one and all for having done me the honour of electing me as President of the Sixth Sind Provincial Conference in this City of Jacobabad. My thanks to you consist of few words, because I cannot express what I feel.
We meet here today to deliberate on National and Provincial questions and pass resolutions to guide our future course to serve our Motherland: there can be no greater happiness or joy than to serve own dear Land and I humbly bow to the Almighty and our Devas for giving us this opportunity to meet and speak for the Holy cause of our Nation, to unite in one bond for one purpose, vis. SWARAJ FOR OUR BHARAT DESH.
Friends, when I think that it is only a few years ago that I have entered the arena of political life, I do feel my unworthiness to take up the responsible duty you have entrusted me with, today. I take it up since you so will it, and offer myself to Him to guide me aright and look to you to help me in the discharge of that duty. May I be worthy of your choice.
At such meetings my first thoughts do go to our leaders-past and present, at whose feet we have begun to learn lessons of self-Government and Self-Determination; let us send our thoughts of reverence and love to all of them, those noble patriots and pioneers who have paved for us the way for service to our Motherland.
Self-Government and Self-Determination
The foremost ideals and demands of ours are Self-Government and Self-Determination; the air of Bharat Desh is surcharged and electrified with this powerful idea. Our assemblies, our meetings, our actions, words, feelings, our ways of living, our daily steps, all make us to move forward towards these goals and we are willing to offer all our happiness, joy, peace and whatever that is good and valuable in life to this shrine of SWARAJ, Self-Government, Self-Determination, call it what you will. It is but reasonable that I should deal with this topic first.
We feel that Swaraj of Self-Government is our Birth Right; we feel that the present system of Government is unsuitable for India and Indians; we feel that the present constitution of the Government is extremely costl and a great burden on our Land. We also know that the present administration is autocratic and selfish. We intensely feel the hardship, burden and injustice of unequal treatment accorded to sons of our land in comparison with the treatment given to the sons of other lands in our own Home; and we see in consequence that our Land is being continually drained of its wealth and resources and reduced to improve; we want therefore a change in the system and constitution of the Government as at present existing. We want to exercise our right as Indians, as the sons of this soil to self determine what type of constitutional Government within the British Empire will suit the condition and needs of our country.
Since 1886, our veteran leaders have been constantly pointing out to our rulers how India has suffered in all aspects of its life by the methods of administration by Great Britain, that had grown unsuited to the fast changing needs of the times- but they spoke and cried in vain. In the year 1906, the Dada of India gave out his holy pronouncement that Swaraj must henceforth be our goal and that we must look to it as the one way to relive India from its sufferings and since then the cry of Swaraj has spread to every corner of our dear land; every year our demands grew firmer and stronger; side by side, the reactionary measures of the officials calculated to prevent our aspirations from taking proper shape also grew stronger. The struggle went on. Constant efforts were made by subtle means to divide and widen the gulf between Hindus and Moslems; certain persons were made official favourites to form a Government party. Measures to suppress National papers and gag those that propagated liberal views taken; needle reforms and measures for the good of India in spite of all popular demands were not introduced, with the result a most unfortunate result, that today in India, we find the public and Government as two distinct parties, as if the interests of the two are separate and opposite. Friends, it is no pleasure to me to make these statements. To me, and I am sure, to you all this state of affairs is unwelcome and painful. Well, this struggle continued, and it became a subject of constant anxiety to several thoughtful leaders of our Land. It was apparent that such a state of affairs could not last long and could do good to no one; a scheme was thought out by our leaders for improving the system of Government, ultimately leading to self-government within the British Empire. That scheme is well known to you as the Congress-League scheme; this scheme if accepted by the Government would have had the result to bring about some satisfaction until the final goal was reached by the people of a nation that aspired and struggled for liberty, justice and equality. Practically the whole of India accepted this scheme as the immediate step towards the goal of self-government; the state of affairs reached to an anxious stage owing to the righteous impatience of the people on one hand to be free and the desire of Government officials on the other hand to muzzle the people. At last one who represented the King Emperor realized the gravity of the situation and invited the Secretary of State for India, to visit our land personally and to judge the situation; the great war was raging, our land was “Hanm-Sharik” with our Emperor and his allies in all the battle-fields and our soldiers fought on all the four continents of the world. The Secretary of State, the Right Hon’ble Mr. Montagu, whom India had always known and accepted as a friend, came to India soon after the announcement of the 20th August 1917 that responsible Government as an integral part of the British Government was the goal of British Rule in India. The Viceroy and the Secretary of Sate after prolonged consultation of all shades of opinion in India and careful consideration of the views placed before them issued a report containing suggestions for Reforms; it was apparent that the report bore evident indications of the influences of those who were against Indian Rights and aspirations. The report rejected the Congress League Scheme and suggested quite a different scheme, which almost all in India pronounced with one voice as inadequate to meet Indian aspirations. Yet there were a few leaders who took the view that the reforms suggested by Lord Chelmsford and Mr. Montagu were an advance on the present system and though inadequate to meet our demands they ought to be welcomed and if need be accepted as a first instalment. But a large majority- and a very large majority declared at the Special Congress in Bombay that the scheme was inadequate, unsatisfactory and disappointing. They however did not reject the scheme, but demanded several substantial modifications while adhering to its principal frame works. The main modifications demanded were that in the Provincial Governments all subjects except departments of law, police, and justice, should be immediately transferred to popular control, the above three subjects being reserved to executive Government, only for a period of six years; and that in the Central Government, all departments except foreign affairs (excepting relations with the colonies and dominions), army, navy, and relations with Indian Ruling Princes, and subject to the declaration of rights given below, matters directly affecting public peace, tranquility, and defence of the country, should be transferred to popular control as the immediate step towards responsible Government. The Declaration of Rights which in view of its great importance deserves to be put before the public as often as possible reads thus:-
(Declaration of Indian Rights)
RESOLUTION IV:- The Government of India shall have undivided administrative authority on matters directly concerning peace, tranquility and defence of the country subject to the following:-
That the Statue to be passed by Parliament should include the Declaration of the Rights of the People of India as British Citizens:-
a. That all Indian Subjects of His Majesty and all the subjects naturalized who are resident in India are equal before the law, and there shall be no penal nor administrative law in force in this country, whether substantive or procedural of discriminative nature,
b. that no Indian subject of His Majesty shall be liable to suffer in liberty, life, property, or in respect of free speech or writing, or of the right of association, except under sentence by an ordinary Court of Justice, and as a result of lawful and open trial
c. that every Indian subject shall be entitled to bear arms, subject to the purchase of a license, as in Great Britain, and that right shall not be taken away save by a sentence of ordinary Court of Justice;
d. that the Press shall be free, and that no license nor security shall be demanded on the registration of a press or a newspaper;
e. that corporal punishment shall not be inflicted on any Indian subject of His Majesty save under conditions applying equally to all other British subjects.
The wisdom of Providence however moved us onwards. The great war suddenly came to an end. We were victorious and our Empire loudly proclaimed that the battle was won for the freedom of all nations; that it was a war won to give the right of self determination to every nation, weak or strong. That it was a war which decided and proved that Right ruled over might. These loud proclamations of Britain and its Allies gave more vigour to India’ demands. Side by side with these India’s demands, a party opposed to Indian reforms, under the leadership of Lord Sydenham, carried on highly mischievous campaign against Indian Aspiration; During the interval of a few months between the Special Session of the Congress at Bombay held in August last, and the 33rd Sessions of the Congress at Delhi in December, the Indian Members of the Bombay Legislative Council declared that they were ready for full provincial autonomy viz. that all departments of provincial government be transferred to popular control of Legislative Councils. This declaration and the increased opposition of officials to reforms and some acts of high handed bureaucratic policy between August and December 1918 made the 33rd Sessions of the Congress to demand full Provincial Autonomy for all Provinces of India. Some leaders demanded this firmly, specially pointing out that the department of Police must be brought under popular control immediately, and that it would be ruinous to keep it longer under the control of autocratic executives as a provincial reserved subject. It was clear that the main reason for this demand, contrary to the resolution of the Congress only three months before, was due to extreme dissatisfaction at the administration of the police department. Friends, I do believe that the whole responsibility for the present situation in India lies with this department of police. It has been truly a horror to the people; its actions, ways and means are a good deal responsible for creating acute feelings against the present system of Government; instead of affording protection, it, as it stands, is a menace to our property, person and honour. The germs of sedition and anarchy which we see sprouting occasionally in a few individuals in India and which we whole heartedly condemn is undoubtedly the result of police oppression which has become unbearable. Measures to reform the police will be far more effective, in my opinion to kill sedition, than those suggested by the Rowlatt Commission and the “Black Bills”. It is first necessary to remove the roots of a rotten tree- in this case the harsh conduct and injudicious activities of the police. There may by and are exceptions, as I do not class all members of the Police alike, but what I have said above applies to both Indians and non Indians. If only efforts were made to make the Indian police, even one-tenth as good as the police in England, how much more happy would India be today! How much more smooth would be the relations between people and the Government; I earnestly hope that this aspect of the question will receive the earnest consideration of all concerned.
I feel I ought to lay before you some of the main views and arguments which were responsible for the difference of opinions and the division of the house at our last Session of Congress in Delhi.
There, some of our leaders gave out their views which were accepted by a minority (and I was one of the minority) that a sounder and practical aspect of the present political situation did not make it advisable to demand immediately all departments as transferred to the Reformed Legislative Councils in all provinces of India for the reasons:
That the demand of full autonomy and the insistence of its grant would prejudice the chances of securing substantial modification in the Central Government. That even if full provincial autonomy were granted the Central Government could transfer to itself any department out of the control of the Provincial Government, and thus baffle all plans of popular control. This sudden change in our demand would mean a stronger opposition from those opposed to reforms. That this demand might also alienate from us our best friends in Britain because full provincial autonomy for all provinces means practically the rejection of the Montagu-Chelmsford Scheme of Reforms. Also for sake of unity between leaders in India, viz, those of the moderate party and the advanced party, it was necessary and advisable to stick to resolutions agreed upon at the Special Congress at Bombay.
Such of our moderate friends as attended the Delhi Congress also expressed the view which practically meant that they regarded the Montagu-Chelmsford Scheme of Reforms as not adequate but they were prepared to accept it as such and welcome it, and press for more reforms.
Thus there were three distinct opinions expressed at the Congress. I personally do not see the least objection to such difference of opinion. Let us remember after all that as far as most of the essentials are concerned all parties do agree. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in his Presidential address at Delhi stated that the Moderate Conference, the Indian National Conference, and the Moslem League agreed in asking for certain essential modifications and improvements in the scheme: he said:-
“It has thus become as clear as noon-day light that enlightened Indian Public opinion is unanimous in urging that the principle of responsible government should be introduced in the Government of India simultaneously with a similar reform in the Provinces and that there should be a division of functions in the Central Government into reserved and transferred as a part of the first instalment of reforms. It is unanimous in urging that half the number of the members of the Council of State should be elected. It is unanimous in urging that Indians should constitute one-half of the Executive Government in India. It is unanimous in asking that the popular houses should elect their presidents and vice-Presidents. It is unanimous in requiring that the elective majority should be four-fifths; and that the reserved list should be as small and the transferred list as large possible. It is unanimous in asking that ministers should be placed on a footing of prefect equality with the members of the Executive Council. It is unanimous in asking for a complete separation of judicial from executive functions. It is unanimous in urging that 50 percent of the posts in the Indian Civil Service, and to start with, 25 percent of the King’s commission in army, should be secured to Indians and that adequate provision for training them should be made in the country itself. It is unanimous in urging that the ordinary constitutional rights, such as freedom of the press and public meetings and open judicial trials, should be safeguarded, though there is a difference of opinion about the methods suggested to secure the end. I have not attempted and exhaustive enumeration. My object here is to show that there is, not withstanding difference over unimportant matters and not withstanding all that we hear of divisions and parties, practical unanimity in the country about the most essential changes and improvements which are needed in the proposals of reform.” Friends, since on these important points, there is agreement, there should be no objection to all parties working in concert for these modifications. Opinions may and do differ on other points and each individual or each party may certainly and shall have the liberty to work for its own special demands but where we unite in opinions we must also work unitedly. The present time is the time and opportunity. The reform bill is soon to be represented to the Parliament. The very world politics indicates compromise. Compromise does not mean giving up efforts for future progress or binding ourselves for life to any agreement that we may come to. For years past we have been putting forward our demands; now has come the time for action when the need for being practical is essential. Much depends upon how we can influence the members of the Parliament and the Committees in England, and I plead for a balanced mind. Enthusiasm and hunger for Self-Government is one thing and the recognition of the political side of things is another. We are now in a situation in which our internal differences would mean opportunities lost for a long time. If we differ between ourselves in a way as to cut off friendship, refuse tolerance, forget gratefulness, reverence and respect because of difference of opinions, where shall we be? If we are coming to that stage of National life, I would say friends, “Halt”. As far as differences of opinion and different parties are concerned, I am not the least alarmed; differences exist everywhere and must exist in the Congress also; on important points and essentials we fortunately agree but even if we differ widely where is the harm? From difference of views if rightly discussed and handled we grow and advance. We may form parties but not factions.
The Indian National Congress has a wide platform. It inspires all with one aim, viz. Self-Government for our Mother Land; I feel sure it is watched and protected by Devas and Great Souls and it will and can never break down against any and all outside opposition as long as we have the good of our country in our heart. We shall be loyal to our Congress even though we differ. Let us have tolerance and forbearance and right shall come up triumphant out of all differences and struggles. If we prove that we have sufficient strength of love for our dear land and are able to sink personal differences and look only to our Motherland, the power of the Almighty shall always be behind us to protect and guide us and our sacrifices and efforts shall never be in vain and our day shall come nearer. Amen.
Within British Empire
My Friends, some words on this subject are essential. India’s ancient civilizations, its past glorious times, its great achievements in all departments of life, always fill us with pride and we consider it a blessing to be born on Indian soil in Bharatbhumi. But we cannot afford to live only on the glory of the past; considering our present, I feel that the advent of the British in our Land was arranged for by the Wisdom of the Providence, and I believe that the Almighty God has a plan of evolution thus bringing the East and the West so close. Though the plan has not been yet fulfilled, though we have been together for over a hundred and fifty years, because of limitations of our human nature we should not despair. Let us strive firmly and try to bring about a closer unity between England and India. I am one of those who are convinced that whatever be India’s past glory and England’s present prosperity, India’s salvation in this age lies in its connection with England and that of England with India, that the one without the other will be helpless and that without each other’s help God’s plan of a great Aryan civilization would fail. For the vast continent of India stretches into the Indian ocean with one arm extended towards the near East and the other towards the far East, possessing geographically such a favourable central position, that it already forms they key-stone of the British Empire; and when India ceases to be the great dependency that it is now and becomes a partner and an equal partner in that Empire, that Empire bids fair to become world Empire. That is the prospect that stands out before us. If rulers were wise this prospect would become speedy of realization to the mutual benefit of England and India and of the world at large. Not with standing all that I know and feel about the autocracy of the present system of Government in India and our suffering resulted therefrom, there is also much for us to feel thankful and grateful to them. Ideals of self-government and self-determination which we aspire to win have been evolved within us in the present generation by connection with Englishmen. The claim for freedom and liberty that we cherish have grown within us because we see what freedom and liberty have done in their lands. A good deal of pioneering work in many developments in our land has been done by them and some valuable lives of theirs have been given for and in India in the last hundred years and more:-
The admirable virtues of England’s sons and daughters and of those of the dominions, during the war i.e. firm will, extreme patriotism, capacity to suffer, willingness to give up their lives and possessions, burning love for their country must appeal strongly to our minds and we must feel proud to belong to this Empire.
In the last war, friends, our land has sacrificed thousands of lives for Britain and has made several other sacrifices too numerous to be stated and all these have not been done in vain. Sacrifice of blood and life must bring by natural laws the giver and the one for whom it is given more close in the firm bond of love, friendship and unity. And if we therefore are desirous of treading the most natural path- the path traced by the loving hands of God- let us try in our political field of work for unity between England and India to gain liberty and equality or Self-Government within the British Empire. I am not yet in despair; there are many deeds of selfishness which we must get redressed from Britain, there are many misgivings and misunderstandings which we must remove from ourselves.
But on any occasion when we find ourselves under entire despair, friends, let us remember always that our Dharma forbids us any act of violence to person or property. We may follow the path of “soul force” or “Satyagrah” and undertake voluntary sufferings on ourselves rather than make others suffer by our passion and anger. To me the maxim of Zoraster is very clear, “Let sovereign know that God gives sufferance to human power only for the greater care for human freedom; the power that seeks to destroy shall be destroyed itself”. History is not without proofs of these teachings. Let us pray the day may never come for our British Empire but Heaven helps those who help themselves.
Rowlatt’s Bills, and the Delhi Tragedy
Friends, I do not wish to speak much on this extremely painful subject. We have heard and read much about these measures, specially during the first twenty days of the month of March and those who have gone through the proceedings of the last Session of the Imperial Council carefully, must remember the extreme pain and agony through which they must have passed day after day, when reading how our leaders- one and all- loyally, with unfailing energy, struggled upto the last minutes with their arguments, logic rhetoric, persuastion, entreaties, and warnings, but all these have been in vain.
The European members of the Council, and thank God only the Europeans, were not impressed at all. The Bills were passed by the entire block of officials and European majority. The wishes, the feelings and the demands of our extremely united Nation and a Country were ignored.
Let us still hope that the Secretary of State will yet recommend His Majesty, the King Emperor, not to give his assent to these bills which have created such keen feelings in India. But friends, even if this last hope of ours is shattered. I would urge you to remain perfectly balanced, clam, and with full trust in Providence. Friends, do try to understand the real spirit of Mahatma Ghandhi’s Satyagrah movement. Soul-force can only succeed when not a tinge of anger and hatred is within us, and when we have entire faith in our Atomic Power. We would be weakening the great spiritual movement of Satyagrah, if we cannot follow the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Follow them if you can, and be true to a letter, otherwise friends, I urge you do not-do not join the Satyagrah. To weaken “Atma” is fatal to our cause, I urge you for the sake of India, for the sake of Mahatma Gandhi, and for the sake of Satyagrah, to understand that this movement is entirely spiritual and not in the least political.
The Delhi tragedy has grieved us immensely. Precious lives have been lost through unwisdom and injustice; no better proof can be had how India is suppressed by irresponsible servants of the government and how dangerous it is to give power to officials who have no sympathy, and who forget themselves in intoxication of power. But I feel, these lives have not been lost in vain. Time will prove it. I would urge that our people should erect in Delhi a monument in holy memory of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. It will enable us to keep our memory green and to keep our eyes ever on our goal.
The Year 1919 – Our hopes & our Anxieties
The year 1919 promises to be a momentous one for our empire in many ways. The entire world in this first year of the peace is naturally busy with problem of “settling down” and in this process of “settling down” it must pass through highest hopes and deepest anxieties.
So far as India is concerned my foremost anxiety is about the question of the “CALIPHATE”. India contains a large number of the followers of Prophet Muhammad and any disturbance of Muhammadan feelings must affect the whole of India. I know how strongly the current of feeling is running in India about the question of the “CALLIPHATE” and my greatest anxiety for 1919 for India is on this matter. Let us earnestly hope that justice, wisdom and statesmanship will prevail with those who are deciding the fate of the religious centres of Islam. It cannot be denied that the Muhammadans of India have loyally given their services to their British King against the Sultan of Turkey, as a Ruler, but certainly not as their Caliph; they keep their religious allegiance with the Sultan of Turkey as their Caliph and their determination to acknowledge him as Caliph must not be and cannot be interfered with.
The conciliatory attitude which the Government of India have recently shown in this matter has made the position somewhat easy for the present and I would request our Anglo Indian Journals to refrain from remarks which may bring about a crisis. When even men like H. H. The Aga Khan and Syed Amir Ali have expressed their views on the matter with such firmness, it should not be difficult for our English friends to imagine the gravity of the situation.
The replies of British Ministers, the Viceroy and the Governor that the Muhammadan case will be properly represented at the Peace Conference and that the subject would be left to the Muhammadans to decide have brought some relief and let us hope that Great Britain will insist upon this claim of our Muhammadan Brethren being accepted.
The second great anxiety is in connection with the Indian Reform Bill. The general feelings is that now the war is over, India cannot get anything substantial and not much will come out of the King’s announcement of the 20th August 1918; people have lost faith to such an extent that they feel that the terms of the announcement will be twisted and turned by British statesmen and officials to fit in with their proposals. Several measures adopted by the Viceroy and Provincial Heads since the Armistice, several acts of officials in higher services against Indians, and the rapid disappearance of that milder and kinder attitude which was shown by Englishmen towards the Indians during the War adds to the doubts of the Indian that no substantial Reform will be granted to India.
The relations between the two races are getting so strained that friendship between and European and an Indian is becoming impossible. I view this stage with great
regret and anxiety.
India has been a nation hungry for its food, for its education and for its political freedom, and the longer it takes to satisfy them the stronger their demands will become and feelings are bound to run higher. The patience of the Nation is getting exhausted and the anxiety of those who yet hope to see the matters set straight by peaceful methods is becoming deeper. The officials are greatly mistaken if they judge India by the circle of title-hunters, flatterers and eaves-dropping reporters by whom they are surrounded. The public know these persons in their true colours and the more such persons are honoured or found in the company of officials, the Government houses and Collectors’ bungalows, the more awkward becomes the position of Government. These sycophants and tale bearers do more harm to British Rule than to Indians against whom the minds of the officials are being constantly poisoned. What is to be extremely deprecated is that the gulf between the officials and the public is getting wider, and on that account the relations between the two races the Indians and the Europeans are getting so strained that as I said above day by day even personal friendship between an Indian and an European is becoming impossible. Instead of the struggle between bureaucracy and the people’s rights the opposition has become as it were between the Indians and the Europeans. Rude treatment of several Civil & Military European officers and subordinates towards the Indians, frequent advertisements of various Government Depts. such as Post, Telegraphs, Railways, etc. and the Port Trust advertising for posts to be filled up and mentioning clearly that only Europeans were required, injustice to Indians to get their rightful claim of promotion and position and passing them over to give room to the European Sub-ordinates over them, add much to resentment of the Indians. And the constant question one asks is “How long shall our Country suffer this?” One such question in an Indian heart means added feelings against those responsible and I ask my English Friends how long this will last? Can a nation allow it? Or will nature allow it?
And to thoughtful Indians all these cause grave anxiety; that India is losing faith in Britain is apparent and this is highly undesirable. Sometimes I do feel that, unwisdom guides the fate of on rulers. I urge and appeal therefore, to all Englishmen if my humble voice from this far away corner of India can reach them, to release the gravity of the situation. The only remedy is to grant immediately a substantial measure of reforms as demanded and make out a proper scheme even by stages to convince the people of India that the full share of responsible Government will be reached by certain specified stages and within a definite period, so that the people of the country in co-operation with the Government may in right earnest begin to work for the development and growth of the country accordingly.
It appears that under the Montague-Chelmsford Scheme of Reforms, a private book of instructions is to be given to the Governors, as to how the men of the I. C. S. and other services are to be protected against the orders issued by the responsible ministers of the province if they be Indians. Far better would it be if in that book of instructions the Governors be asked to instruct men of the I. O. S. and of other services and other Englishmen in the country to treat Indian people with sympathy courtesy and the respect, which is due to one man from another and to see that this is done. Continued efforts should be made to bring the officials and the public closer. Sympathy is the only way. India is the easiest country to rule. Its people are simple and devoted. In order to realise this you have only to see how a good and sympathetic official or his wife is being practically worshipped in India. People of India are grateful if only sympathy is shown towards them.
And my third great anxiety is for ourselves. Firstly I do feel sometimes our lack in sense of proportion in blaming officials for acts and imputing motives which are either greatly exaggerated or do not exist; I also view with alarm our growing bitterness towards Europeans generally, so much that our present tendency is to regard every European, official or non-official wherever we have occasion to deal with him as inspired by deliberate hostility towards us. My friends, this is not right on our part and cannot be justified. Many a time we do not even wait to see how a Governor or a new official would treat the Indians or how he would administrator the duties of his office. We are apt to class them all as one; this attitude does a great harm to our cause and must be checked for the sake of fairness and the desirability of preserving good will between the two great races of the Empire and on higher grounds of love and sympathy for all children of God. Sympathy and love cannot last long unless they are mutual. I am very fond of saying and I repeat “Let us help and co-operate wherever help and co-operation is needed; oppose where opposition is necessary and right”.
Secondly, we must correct our attitude towards our own leaders, who have practically dedicated their whole lives to the service of our cause. Leaders of all parties, whether of the right, the central or the left party must receive our respectful regard justified by their character, sincerity, patriotism and services to our country whatever be their opinions. Even as regards difference of policy and opinion every view honestly held deserves our consideration and tolerance. We must remember the words of a great Sage that ungratefulness is the greatest vice; and if we fall under the temptation of this vice of ungratefulness either towards our leaders or towards our rulers to whom we are extremely grateful for such services as they have rendered to the country, a reaction and arrest in our development must come. Our doubts then become the seeds of our own internal dissensions among us. Enmity within our own household is highly dangerous for our cause even more detrimental than any form of autocracy or bureaucracy of outsiders; we must drive out intolerance and intellectual tyranny from ourselves.
Thirdly what makes me anxious for ourselves is our want of deep study in matters political. We are growing highly sentimental and emotional and less inclined to appeals to reason. It is observed at most of our meetings. Appeals to sentiment, denunciation of Government or officials or putting forward of big demands elicit the largest response. Our devotion to leaders is measured by volume of cheering and the popularity of a speakers seems to depend on the use of strong language making of extreme demands. The stronger the language, the extremer the demands, the greater the applause. This attitude of our cannot help us in our progress nor can it convince our opponents of our capacities. I urge therefore strongly for close and devoted study of political problems, facts, figures and statistics. A fairly large bulk of excellent literature on Indian political problems has already been published and we must develop a love for study. We must encourage regular study groups in our associations and make efforts to educate our masses in as much details as possible so that they may have intelligent and real grasp of the various problems. We must see that our political literature is translated in all the vernaculars. Biographies and speeches of our leaders should be made available in all public libraries and all possible means should be adopted to awaken Indian masses to a realization of the value of the study of the problems.
Friends, I would not wish you to labour under a misapprehension that I am pessimistic of India’s growth; side by side with my anxieties for every problem, there are many gleams of hope; I am optimistic and look forward to a bright future for India. In the past, every nation and country has passed through the severe crisis of “Political hunger and demand for rights”. Even at the present time we see what is passing in some countries e.g. Russia and Germany. I am however hopeful that India’s struggle for freedom will not be with any evil or wrong doing. Though our land and ourselves will have to pass through strict ordeals and sufferings to reach the goal, I feel that the ideals of our past civilization and our Dharma are too deep-rooted in every Indian Child and will save us from recourse to wrong methods for political freedom.
For the year 1919, I hope to see unprecedented progress in our capacity to sacrifice and suffer, in our industrial development in our social life and in matters political and educational. The anxieties which I have dealt with for problems of Caliphate, Reform Scheme and ourselves are not without hopes of satisfactory arrangement and solutions. In the end I would urge, my friends, along with strong will and determination, a balanced mind and patient judgment.
The I. C. S
In our present political activities a great deal is said about the I. C. S., and how to deal with this body is a matter sufficiently important for our future to deserve our keen consideration. Their joint and open opposition against Indian Reforms in certain provinces and the Viceroy’s opening speech at the last Imperial Council Meeting must lead us to reflect very seriously on the subject. There is no doubt that the I. C. S. has grown to be very unpopular in this country. This body of public servants has been running so long in a particular groove of the system of autocracy, that it is very difficult to move it out from this position. In fact the bureaucratic frame of mind has become, as it were, a second nature with almost all members of this service and its Indian members are not exceptions to this.
But it is plain and clear that neither the I.C.S. nor any other service can remain as our rulers or masters any longer. The I.C.S. and other public services are the servants of the public as the very words imply and they must not arrogate to themselves the functions of Government which properly belong to the people and which they alone must exercise through their duly appointed representatives. The people of India have realized this and they are determined to acquire these rights.
We have been observing that for the defence of this body, the European Association, The European Chambers of Commerce and a large and influential group of Englishmen most of whom are interested in India simply on account of trade connections or investment of capital have been working actively during recent times. The Sydenham Clique is provided with large funds by these individuals and associations. The result of my observation and study of this matter is a conclusion arrived at sometime ago which I am getting more and more confirmed that the I.C.S. is a useful tool in the hands of a body of Commercial men and financiers in England and India who are working for their own selfish advantages and oppose strongly the Indian aspirations and progress; because let us clearly understand that our impoverishment and sufferings are due not so much to the system of revenue administration as to problems relating to tariff, exchange, finance, banking, currency, railway and shipping. All these are controlled by these Commercial men and financiers, who actually form a very influential Government party in England and the I.C.S seem to be under their influence and guidance owing to the power they wield on party politics in England. This also explains why the Government of England, the Secretary of State and even the Government of India so often show great anxiety to protect and defend the I.C.S to such an extent as to make one feel that the Government is afraid of them.
This commercial party holds the real key to the position of affairs in India; they know what an asset India is to England, and they know also how to keep India under their thumb. These men in the intoxication of power have become unconscious not only of right and wrong as far as the Indian Nation is concerned but they have also become blind to the dangers of alienating the sympathy and love of a nation and a country which has brought them great prosperity, which has been heart and soul with their country and people all throughout the Great War and which gave them such indispensable help at the time of their extreme difficulty and peril. I urge therefore my countrymen that we should go to the root cause of our sufferings; let us raise our eyes to the vital problems wherein lie the real mischief. We have steadily given away ourselves by our ignorance. We must thoroughly educate ourselves in these problems of tariff, exchange, currency and finance. Some of us must make regular study of these subjects. Let us strive for that important reform, that of fiscal autonomy which vitally affects the economic future of the country. We must produce students, thinkers and workers for handling and tackling such vital problems, the root cause of our sufferings, the drain from our country and the poverty and ignorance of our masses. We must find out and train men and women who would devote their entire time thus to our country’s cause, and we must be ready to provide maintenance for them and their families if need be.
I think we must also make a serious effort to impress upon this body of I. C. S. what is right and advantageous for all concerned. We must admit that, this body as a whole has been found able and hard working and possessing several good traits of character. It includes among its members several who according to their own light honestly wish to work for the good of India and some even if few have gone out of the way to labour for India’s good at great sacrifice and cost to themselves and have proved beyond doubt that they are true and good friends of India. For many improvements and developments in our country, we have to be grateful to them; in several respects their services have been valuable; hence I have often felt that attacks from our side on this body of public servants have been severer than can be justified; In fact I see a tendency amongst us to throw the responsibility for every possible grievance or deficiency on them; this we should avoid. They are highly educated and men of reason and I think we ought to impress upon them that their attitude does no good to Indians or Englishmen and in the .long run must do positive harm to their own country. Why should they oppose to the union of Hindus and Muhammadan in India? Will they or can they ever succeed? Have they not got enough proofs that where the question of political freedom will come the Hindus and the Muhammadan can and will unite as one nation. All what we wish is that the I. C. S. or any other service in India shall be Indianized and that they shall not remain in India, feeling or acting as foreigners. Sympathy and goodwill do not cost anything. These are sure to bring happiness to them and all Indians. On our part also we must then feel that we have no desire to rule over Englishmen in India just as we have no desire to be ruled by them; when India enjoys responsible Government their position of equality with Indian will be amply secured and that under the new changes, no Englishman serving whether in the I. C. S. or any other service will have reason to be dissatisfied; they should be assured of same respect and treatment which any son of the Soil would receive at our hands the same respect and treatment which the officials receive in England itself under responsible Government.
I feel similarly that there is no reason for the British Capitalists to be apprehensive of their future in India.
It would be India’s duty and pleasure to see that commercial relations between England and India are strengthened for their mutual benefit. All that we shall see is that India’s industries shall not be crushed and India’s trade shall not be wiped out for the sake of England’s Industries and English trade; but at the same time we shal1 see as citizens of the British Empire that we do not for our advantage attempt to harm the industries and commerce of England. The fears entertained by British officials and British Commercialists will turn out to be simply idle fears, for when the full measure of reform is granted to India, the ties between the two races will be found to be growing stronger and the volume of trade between the two countries will be found to be double or triple or even more than what it is now. The result is bound to be such for it can be proved from history. But all these can happen only if India’s rights of self-government are accepted and if India is to be treated with justice, equality and freedom. If we can only understand and make our I. C. S. friends also understand what a glorious future awaits the Empire by adopting a policy of mutual goodwill by the substitute of Responsible Government for autocracy in India and by accepting India as on equal partner in the Empire, the world for both England and India would be very much more different, from what it is now and much more happy than it is today. Some patriots dream of the days when India will be administered not by these hired services but by honorary managers in place of the I. C. S. and other Public servants. Who would not long for that day! That day shall be “The Day” for India! When that day comes, India will reach the summit of its glory; when India is able to produce such able sons and daughters as can administer the country as honorary managers, there can be no cause of anxiety for those in public services, because I am sure during such days of glory, India’s Industry, Art, Science and Agriculture will have so far developed as to easily employ and take up all highly educated men and women and possibly they would be far more happy in other departments of life than in public services.May that day come soon.
Our Work in England
Ever since the Delhi Congress our minds have been greatly exercised over the question pf our work in England and the immediate dispatch of deputations from various bodies. The Congress resolved to send a deputation but the wording of the resolution regarding the deputation has created doubts whether or not the deputation had the power of negotiation. Some leaders are of opinion that the Congress has given a mandate to the Deputation not to negotiate for anything less than what is contained in the resolution passed at Delhi; other leaders including our Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the revered President of the Delhi Congress are of opinion that the resolution as worded does not take away the power of negotiation. This may be if we construe the wordings of the resolution literally. But friends, the discussion on the resolution in the subjects committee as well as in the open Congress left no doubt in my mind that the deputation had a clear mandate and no power of negotiation. I hold therefore that we have no option but to choose the lesser of the two evils viz the mandate or negotiation with the risk of possible censure from the next Congress, I myself feel that our deputation must have our full confidence and possess power to negotiate even if there is a risk of a censure from the next Congress, though I hope our people will realise by the time the wisdom of granting the power of negotiation. Let us choose the leaders in whom we have trust, but having chosen, give them the liberty to negotiate. Our respected leaders whom we elect to go to England in a Deputation should have our fullest confidence and we must request them to do their best on our behalf, with their discretion, judgment and wisdom. I cannot imagine anyone of them, possibly doing anything to harm our interests and I on my part would give the authority to negotiate Carte-blanche.
We should also request our leaders forming the deputation to agitate strongly and work for the removal of the hardships under which our brethren labour in South and East Africa. We must impress upon Englishmen that the shameful and unhuman treatment given to the Indians in these colonies must add greatly to our feelings of resentment and we in India can no longer tolerate to see the sufferings of our brethren elsewhere.
But apart from the question of deputation for the reform scheme we have to continue our efforts to press hard in England our claims for our country. We have to educate the English people about India. Even most of the educated persons in England have no real idea of what India is; some think it is full of jungles and forests and uneducated masses of an aboriginal type. Some think India is full of seditionists and anarchists and feel that Englishmen in India are bearing great risks of life and property. I make it a point to ask every Englishman whom I meet as to what his views were about India before he had actually visited it and almost always everyone admitted his gross ignorance of the country at that time. Several statements about India made in well known English Dailies and Magazines and in some books on India written by English men, show how shockingly ignorant the writers are about our country. Questions asked in Parliament prove how little the members of the Parliament know and yet they profess to rule India wisely and well and consider our country as it great trust put in their hands by Providence to manage.
Several Englishmen are fond of judging India by its apparent prosperity, from the increasing numbers of large buildings, by its largely increased imports and exports and such other “side shows” as I call them and they look with pride on “what Britons have made of India” and nothing but the continued propaganda in England would make them to see or discover the reality that the apparent prosperity of India is a great dilusion. It is only the prosperity of a few rich men, the masses say 95 percent are poor, very poor, burdened with the high cost of living, miserable with low income and wages, starving with insufficient food and clothing, sick with plague, cholera and other epidemics. No better proof is required to substantiate the fact of extreme poverty of India than Sir James Meston, the finance minister’s own statement at the last session of the Imperial Council Meeting that the total number of persons in India assessed to income tax is only 381,000 and by raising the taxable minimum of income from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000 per year, he will be relieving no fewer than 237,000 assesses. A writer in the “Servants of India” truly states that “if there is much diffused prosperity in the country, signs of it ought to be visible in the daily life of the people. The plague, cholera and influenza epidemics do not show that the resisting capacity of the masses is greater than before.”
All these show how important is the need for us to educate England about India. I have not lost hopes in England.
Mr. A. G. Redmond Howard (one of the strugglers agitating for Home Rule for Ireland) has written somewhere truly, “Bureaucracy is foreign to the most elemental instinct of Englishmen, and if one may use a paradox” a very little historical investigation will show that Home Rule means nothing else but British Rule, in so far at least as that latter term is used in any democratic sense.” And what does India want? We also want the British Rule in that democratic sense; we are and promise to remain “loyal to the King” but refuse to be “the slaves of every passing clique” of selfish anti-Indian Englishmen. We would be faithful subjects of the King Emperor ruling over British Empire with all the strength of our love but not slaves of a bureaucratic body. We must therefore have a permanent army of workers in England but we cannot send such workers unless we are prepared to maintain them and also provide for their families; of what avail are the big words, demands and cries from the platforms, unless we are ready to make a sacrifice. Home Rule can never come without sacrifices. Sacrifices such as create sufferings for opponents is against the Divine Path, against our Dharma; for us there is one path, the path of self sacrifice. Let us give for it what is deal unto us-our workers, our able sons and daughters, our wealth, our brains our energy and time and then shall come the day of our glory. That day shall not only be glorious to us but for the whole of the British Empire, if Britain only so wills it.
It is a happy sign of the times to see the awakening in our women also; it is gratifying to see them taking lively interest in matters of civic and national affairs. Some of them are agitating strenuously for equality of rights and this movement of women’s rights must be fully encouraged in every part of India. Friends, we must be prepared fully for this change. We must give up our present ideas of women that they are only meant for house and kitchen work, for nursing children and social comfort. I say “present” because such ideas about women never existed in the past, at least not in India. Our scriptures, our histories, our traditions, our stories and pictures prove beyond doubt that women in ancient India were quite competent and did take part in all the departments of life, even in battlefields and bore the fullest share of responsibility with men. The picture of the Deity as Ardha-nalishwara is a striking symbol of this great fact. I can write pages to quote chapters and words. To refuse women their rights and their proper position in life is to show one’s ignorance and non realization of the noble contribution to life which a woman is meant for; above all this refusal is harmful to ourselves, to our cause and to our country. They can be our ideal helpmates in our struggles for self Government and self determination and their infinite capacity of self sacrifice will be an invaluable asset to the country. It is only a matter of giving them opportunity and we will soon see them on the right level. I am not looking at this problem from a sentimental point of view. I feel no department of life can be complete without women by the side of men and the same rule must apply to our present struggle for freedom and liberty. We must have women as our co-partners with us in our struggle; then alone can the struggle be won. We must have them along with us to drink the nector-the amrit of liberty after the struggle; then alone can true freedom be enjoyed. Without them our struggles shall be lifeless, our peace joyless. No nation, no country, no community can long bear the burden of unequal treatment of position to the two sexes; it is a question of time; what men would not do willingly, nature must force them to do; why not then take a shorter path? let us acknowledge and accept women’s birth right, let them be by our side in bearing the burden of national struggles, for, they will add to our strength; their education will be more rapid, their children after such struggles and education, will be hardier and better trained and the next generation shall be far more highly advanced in body, mind and spirit than the present one. I urge the acknowledgement of women’s rights, because I feel, we shall be doing them justice after the great injustice that we have done them these many long years. We will be doing what is right for them and with their cooperation our day of political victory shall be brought nearer.
Some other demands
Friends, our important and urgent demands are so numerous that I cannot go into details unless I am prepared to speak for days and days together and you prepared to listen to dry facts and figures with patience; But I feel I can not omit a reference to at least some of them, be it even briefly.
The most urgent problem we Indians must look to is that of our Military expenditure; the staggering figures provided for in the last budget must open our eyes and we must insist that a portion and a large portion of it must be borne by the British Treasury. A large majority of troops in India is kept up for the protection of British interests as a whole and not for India and to tax India’s purse for this is highly unjust. The Indian troops and British troops are kept in India on such unequal terms and meted out such unequal treatment that I consider it outrageous that India should be asked to bear such as heavy burden.
The question of the position of our Indian Brethren in South and East Africa must be taken up by us earnestly. The disgraceful treatment accorded to them by handful of white men in the British Colonies must cause for all of us a revolt of feelings in our minds. If I describe the treatment which our Indian brethren receive there, the term “cruel” would fall far short in describing. We must strongly impress upon the Indian Government to take this matter up seriously and we must not rest until we see that the affairs of our brethren in other colonies are settled to satisfaction.
The Press Act is still operated without the least regard for justice, truth or fairness. The Indian press is gagged for trifling causes, whilst Anglo Indian Journals are allowed to abuse the Indians without the slightest restraint and are free to wound Indian feelings to their hearts’ contents. How long can this last?
Our education is another item of importance. We are not given the right type of education nor are given sufficient education. All civilized Nations have made greater progress in education and in this regard India stands last amidst civilized nations of the world. The type of education which leads to the prosperity of the country, which builds up mind and body, finds no place in our educational system and some people ask if this is being purposely done to keep Indians always a suppressed nation. The whole system has become so wooden, so mechanical in this department that it requires a radical change.
The last question but in no sense the least important is the question of the release of Messrs Mohamedali and Showktali. I do not wish to enter into the history of that case but it is now no longer a secret that the Government had and has absolutely no justification for their internments. It is more or less now a question of prestige bat what is past cannot be undone. It will be truly British to let them have their freedom and we on our part shall be glad to drop the curtain on the subject. The freedom of other innocent internees must also be demanded.
But I must stop here to turn to questions of our own Province.
Position of Sind in The Coming Reforms
As far as our little province is concerned this question should engage our uppermost attention, especially as the Scheme of Indian Reforms is soon to be out. We Sindhis must now clearly and definitely form our opinion and attitude as to what position we wish to hold in future. For some years past, we have come to two main conclusions; one is that the special powers delegated to the Commissioner in Sind must be withdrawn. We Sindhis consider it highly inadvisable to leave such powers in the hands of one person from whose personal whims, the men of the province may have constantly to suffer.
The second conclusion of ours is that the Government of Bombay has been too busy and too distant to give sufficient attention and justice to the growth of Sindh; it is even asserted that because of Bombay, Sindh has been done absolute injustice, in several instances. In recent years during the Governorship of Lord Willingdon we have forced the Bombay Government to pay some attention; our new Governor Sir George Lloyd promises to be more attentive; but where a fate of a province is concerned, one cannot depend upon such an uncertain factor as the personality of a Governor.
From time to time, several alternative schemes have been presented to us as to the future of Sind-
1. To leave our province as it is, attached to the Bombay Presidency.
2. To constitute Sindh as one of the separate provinces of India.
3. To attach Sindh to the Province of Punjab.
4. To join Baluchistan to Sindh and make Sind and Baluchistan a joint province.
5. To join to Sindh a portion of Punjab upto Mooltan and make that joint area a separate province.
Various arguments and opinions have been brought forward in favour of and against each of these alternatives and I propose to discuss each one of them. The proposal
marked 4 in my list viz to join Sind and Baluchistan in one Province seems to me impracticable and not at all advantageous. Baluchistan, as it stands, is held for military purposes and it is but fair that this portion be entirely managed by the military department of the Government. Though I do not see at all why a separate measure of popular Government cannot be introduced in other departments, expecting the military department in such places as Quetta, Peshawar and frontier stations which are entirely managed by the Military authorities, I hold that to attach Baluchistan to Sindh which is purely managed by civil authorities would be very disadvantageous. There would be a constant clash between the two authorities Civil and Military; also the Government will not introduce such a large measures of reform in Baluchistan as it might be prepared to introduce in Sindh. The revenue paying capacity of Baluchistan being very small will have to bear a share of Civil expenditure on Baluchistan and for all these reasons the proposal must be rejected in the interest of Sindh.
Now let us consider whether it will be better for us to be attached to Bombay or to the Punjab. Our connection with the Bombay Presidency of over half a century standing makes some of us unwilling on merely sentimental grounds to separate from Bombay and to be attached to a new province; but sentiments have no place in matter like this and we must discuss the subject on purely practical grounds. A look at the map will show us immediately that naturally we are joined to the Punjab. Our land, railways, rivers and canals are all interwoven in one whole with those of the Punjab.
Looking at it from the point of view of commerce and trade interest our entire dependence is on the Punjab. The Chief department of business, the Railway management, is centered in the Punjab. The chief exports of Sind, wheat, hides cotton etc. are from the Punjab. A very great bulk of our export is into the Punjab; our local wholesale trade of Sind exists because of the Punjab. I do not see any independent factor between Sindh and Bombay. The interests of Sindh and those of Bombay are separated and distinct and it is therefore natural that the Bombay Government and the people of Bombay have not been able to appreciate the importance of Sindh at its proper value and have not felt that responsibility for Sind, which they would have, if the commercial and other interests of Bombay had been inter-allied, .interwoven or inter-independent on those of Sind as in the case of the Punjab.
Considering therefore these important aspects of the question, I feel that Sind must be detached from Bombay and joined to the Punjab. The Sind-Punjab Government will feel a greater responsibility towards the development of Sind, as it will be advantageous to both Sind and Punjab and hence the interests of Sind will be more protected. The one and only one difficulty which necessitates further consideration is our political freedom; some of our friends feel that remaining attached to Bombay will mean more liberal and advanced political reforms for Sind than what we would get if attached to the Punjab, because it is said that Punjab is politically not so advanced as Bombay. We are also told that the Punjab is a less educated province in comparison to Bombay and autocracy is more prominent in Punjab and we would therefore have much smaller measure of political reforms. Our activities also, we are told, will be a great deal cramped by the repressive policy of a less liberal government like the Punjab. Friends, I feel that the Punjab Government will in due course become more liberal, but if it were even not so, is it not right and proper that we of Sind should join the Punjab and help it. I would certainly like the people of Sind to make of Sind-Punjab connection as fine a job as is possible by making continued efforts more for liberalization of the provincial Government. It may mean a drawback temporarily, but I am sure, very soon we will be able to convince the joint provincial government that our province shall not have to wait very much longer for as large a measure of reforms as any other province may get.
Now let us discuss some merits of an autonomous Sind or of Sind with a small portion of Punjab say upto Multan attached to it.
I would insist on autonomous Sind (with portion upto Multan) in preference to any alternative. From the ancient history of Sind it already appears that district upto Multan was attached with Sind. The customs, manners and the language of Multan is more akin to the, present in Sindh than to Punjab and administrative advantages for a province of Sind including area upto Multan, taking in all that portion of Bhawalpur state, will be far greater than if Sind alone constituted an independent province.
Sind is a fairly large province with an individuality and capacity and resource of its own. It can hold its own and stand on its own legs without being attached to any other province. From ancient times from B.C. 3600 upto the year 1842 Sind was always a province by itself except for a few years when it was annexed to Delhi. It appears that the province of Sind was considered as a prize by various nations who invaded it from time to time. Baluchistan, Afghanistan and Persia invaded it. Arabs, Moghuls, Rajputs at different times owned it. Its trade, its art, its industry were well known in the whole of the Eastern world, and merchants came from distant lands to trade with this province. It was one of the richest provinces of India. The History of Sind records many a heroic deed of its Rulers, its warriors and its Amirs. Sind was even then directed by the Government of Delhi through the agency of Governors.
I have stated above that the progress of Sind has been a great deal checked by its being attached to Bombay. Our education and our industrial development have been neglected to the cost of our moral and mental progress. The sanitation in the villages of Sind is disgraceful. Mortality is extraordinarily high. There are very few hospitals and dispensaries. The number of roads in the moffusil and their condition are a very sad commentary on the present provincial administration; while in the case of the roads in the moffusil in the Presidency proper, the Government of Bombay have undertaken the upkeep of many of them from Provincial Revenue. In Sind this burden has been thrown entirely on the scanty finances of the local boards; the recent grant of Rupees Fifty thousand extracted from Provincial Government by the endeavours of some of our council members is grossly inadequate for the needs of the situation. For years we have been drawing the attention of the Governors of Bombay and the Viceroys to Bombay’s neglect of Sind but little has come out of it. Lord Willingdon promised and was able to show more sympathy but the distance between Bombay and Sind was great and the system was too rigid for him to be able to do his duty towards our province. The present Governor hopes to do his duty for Sind. To fight against the wooden machinery of Government he needs must be a very strong man; let us hope he will be; and even if he is, how long as I have stated before can we depend upon the uncertain factor of a governor’s personality.
Our population is large enough. In the year, 1911 it was 3,513,435. I estimate it must be now over 4,500,000. I also estimate our provincial revenue is over 180 lacs per annum; and our province is certainly in a position to maintain full provincial administration with its councils and a high court.
We will be able better to attend to agriculture, sanitation, education and industrial needs of our province. We would be able to interest all our people in the administrative problems of our province; we will have no more to depend upon 3 or 4 honourable members of our councils to travel a thousand miles to make a few speeches or to put a few interpellations in the council to ventilate the grievances of Sind.
Sind will have its capital at Karachi with a very much more developed port and harbour. The present clash of commercial interests between Bombay and Sind will not affect the progress of Karachi, in so far as we shall no longer be under the control of rival commercial interests. I dream of an autonomous Sind far ahead of all provinces. I decline to believe as is so often stated that ours is a backward province. Neglected as we have been we are today more awake and more conscious of our needs than any other province of India. Politically Sind is an advanced province; in religion the most broadminded and free from orthodox fanaticism, socially much less bound by creeds and undesirable customs and intelligence our people are in no way inferior to those of any advanced province. And I dream of Sind taking its place in the first rank of advanced provinces, and before long lead them all. Some of our friends believe that if Sind is constituted a separate province with its legislative and executive councils the councils will be dominated by those who will be acting merely supporters of the bureaucracy for some time to come. I do not share this view but even if it be so, we should be prepared to go through that intervening period and struggle throughout for an early termination of that condition of things; and if we have faith in us, I have no doubt that we shall be able to bring round the supporters of official policy to a true appreciation of the public point of view in all matters.
And hence in the coming reforms we must demand nothing less than the reconstitution of Sind as a separate province, under a scheme of responsible Government with as many subjects transferred to popular control and as large franchise as may be conceded to Bombay. Friends, let there be no misunderstanding. I do not suggest that I favour the idea of the separation of Sind from Bombay and to grant to it any kind of Government. My support to the proposal of the reconstitution of Sind into a separate province is conditional on it being granted a measure of Responsible Government equal to that given to any other advanced province.
And yet friends, there is a possibility of this demand of ours not being granted to us. I would be immensely sorry if it is not, but as practical politicians, we must consider what should be done in case Sind is not separated from Bombay. In that case I make the following suggestions that:-
1. The special powers exercised by the Commissioner in Sind be repealed and either this post of Commissioner in Sind be abolished or his powers be kept down to the level of other commissioners. There is absolutely no need of such powers to be delegated to the head of the province; such powers do more harm than good and create a good deal of dissatisfaction.
2. A High Court of Sind be established at Karachi.
3. Care should be taken when framing the provincial budget for Bombay to allot for expenditure in Sind a fair-share of the provincial revenues; also the income and expenditure for Sind be shown separately in the budget.
4. At least one meeting of the Bombay council should be held in Sind every year.
5. The present practice of treating Sind as “Cindrella” of the province in educational sanitary and commercial matters and in the domain of the local self Government must come to an end.
House tax in Sind
Friends, let me express to you my conviction on this subject; though I Know a large majority of you will disagree with my views:
During the last two years, Government’s efforts to impose House Tax in certain towns in Sind have been strongly opposed and protested against. I cannot understand how a municipality can be administered without such taxation. One of the main feature of a municipality relates to the sanitation of the town and sanitation is directly connected with houses; it is therefore in my opinion nothing but just, reasonable and right that houses be first taxed, It is argued that in Sind, the majority of house owners are very poor, they themselves residing in their small houses, and the house tax would hit them hard and alternative of octroi has been suggested. My belief is that octroi system unless it is restricted to articles consumed exclusively by the rich, hits the poorer more than house tax. Believe me that no trader pays octroi from his own pockets. He adds to his cost a fraction more but not less than what he pays as octroi. Octroi is mostly levied on such articles as are necessaries for poor persons and I am quite positive it adds more to their hardship than house tax. From the point of view of poorer classes we would be doing them a real service if we work for reduced octroi and if possible no octroi excepting articles consumed by the rich and agree in its place to an equitable form of house tax. We want our Municipalities to provide us with good roads, water, efficient sanitary arrangements and free education; some even demand model houses from the municipalities; demanding all these to say “no house tax” in not reasonable in my opinion. Once I read a argument against the proposed house tax in Sindh, that the municipality had a balance of Rs. 37, 000 and therefore there was no necessity of levying a house tax. If the municipality of a town of the size I have in view and had Rs. 37, 000 as its net balance, I do not think it should first wait to spend these away and then to levy a tax. After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that house tax is a preferable tax to any other tax. I would personally be very happy to know and find out sources of income for Municipalities, which may be levied more eqitably, so as to get the least out of the pockets of the poorer persons but still to secure adequate funds for the growing municipal needs; but I have yet failed to solve this question and I consider on the whole, the house tax as the lesser of the evils of taxation from the stand point of poor persons. In ancient time also each town and village panchayat had some form of taxation either per individual, family or house. Every small town or village according to our present needs requires some staff for administration, cleanliness and sanitation, a school and a dispensary and it is necessary to find out some means of income for the panchayat or the municipality; I do however admit that some reservation be made for taxing houses valued under a certain sum, or realising rent under a certain sum according to the status and resources of the town should be exempted from paying house tax; but those on whom a house tax can reasonably be levied should not be allowed to enjoy all privileges without giving something to the Municipality and I urge therefore your co-operation with Municipality authorities in this matter. On the other hand, I would urge the Government and Municipal authorities the extreme desirability of first inviting public co-operation as to the best and most equitable constructive proposals to increase the finances or municipalities, so as to prevent avoidable popular dissatisfaction; I consider it equally important that it should be the endeavour of the government and the Municipalities to see that the owner of the house called upon to pay such tax is in a position to pay it.
Municipalities and Local Boards in Sind
Under the new reform scheme, it is likely that the development of the local Self-Government Institution will be great and rapid. Hitherto in Sind, the progress of Municipalities has been very poor and very few towns have the privilege of Municipal administration; and where these Municipalities exist under the present District Municipal Act, limited powers are entrusted to members, the bulk of powers are retained in the hands of the officials; the system or Government nominations, the under influence of the authorities on nominated members and official interference are factors which are highly detrimental to Municipal administration.
We must therefore demand the following reforms:
1. Immediate changes in the District Municipal Act, giving more freedom of administration to municipalities.
2. Entirely elected or almost entirely elected municipal boards.
3. Powers to elect our own presidents and executive officers.
4. Powers to remove our executive officers if found unsuitable.
5. Creating widened franchise.
6. Larger grants from Provincial and Imperial funds, especially in cases of small municipalities.
7. Maintenance by Provincial Government of adequate expert staff for assisting municipalities in launching improvement schemes.
It is a matter of serious consideration to find new sources of income for municipalities. Somehow or the people expect to pay as little as possible and in return get much. I have given elsewhere my views about house tax in Sind and I wish to add some more suggestions here, I feel that the municipalities can very justifically charge some what higher percentages of octroi on luxuries:- costly cloth, wines and spirits, cigarettes, motor cars, high class furniture and such articles can safely be classed for special octroi dues. A portion of income tax, say 20 percent, of the total collection should be allotted to Municipalities. I think this is an equitable demand on the part of the Municipalities.
The growing demands of water supply, drainage, sanitation, dispensaries, hospitals, roads etc. must necessarily mean increased expenditure and it will be just if the municipalities are allowed a small portion say five percent of the profits earned on sales of lands and buildings. If a person buys a piece of land for Rupees ten thousand and sells for fifteen thousand, a sum of Rs. 250 would be a reasonable sum to pay to the municipality, because the profit earned is greatly due in majority of cases to the improvement and development of that quarter, effected by the Municipality.
I also suggest that a local Self Government conference for Sind be held every year where the councilors of all municipalities, local boards, village panchayats and also the officers of these bodies may meet and discuss various problems, pertaining to health, sanitation, engineering, finance, water supply and such other subjects; it will have a great educative value and will be a source of mutual help to all.
I would also urge and impress upon all of us that the right of electing members on the various boards is a sacred privilege, which must be exercised with the greater amount of care and consideration. Our votes must go to the right men, men of independence, energy, knowledge and integrity. Without such members, a good deal of time, energy and effort is wasted and it becomes hopeless to move on along progressive lines. The executive is generally fond of routine work and it requires study and patience to move them out of their routine to paths of progress and development. The future of Local Self Government depends largely upon ourselves; our firmness and determination to elect right men can certainly make municipal administration successful. Municipal work is highly interesting and fascinating; it ideals practically with the main problems of men’s happiness, viz: health, sanitation, children’s welfare, education, housing problems, etc. And I consider it is the duty of every man, more so a councilor to devote some time to faithful study of municipal problems. Some of us should be prepared to sacrifice our ambition of doing public work in other fields, for the work of devoting entire time to the Municipality. Sir Pherozeshaw Mehta was fervently devoted to Municipal work and he often said that some must be prepared even to give up the Imperial and Provincial Legislative councils and stick to municipal matters. Such high ideals of duty for our own city, town or village must be deeply cherished.
The Press in Sind
The method of the bureaucracy as far as the Press in Sind is concerned; have been very high handed and we people of Sind must raise our emphatic protest against such methods. During these years seven papers in Sind, weeklies and dailies, have one after another been called upon to pay securities, although I make bold to say that none of these papers preached anything which had the remotest connection to sedition. The Press Act and Defence of India Act were never meant for persecution for constitutional agitation. Both these acts have been greatly misused and Sind has not been free from such measure, Not only have some of them been called upon to pay security but the registered libraries have been prohibited from subscribing for them; no government and court advertisement and notices are allowed to be published in them; no printing work controlled by Government is given to them and general public is indirectly influenced not to support the papers and all this means extreme hardship particularly in case of moffusil papers which are being thus slained to death. The press owners and the editors who have thus suffered and sacrificed deserve all our sympathy and respect, not merely in words but in deeds also and I suggest that every big town must support its national organs whole heartedly. We must remember that the present awakening is mostly due to these presses and these national papers, and we must show our real gratitude. An influential committee has been formed to help our Sind National organs to keep them going and I do hope our Sind will not fall backward in helping this committee to do its work successfully. I also appeal to the Government to cancel its orders for security and to withdraw all other restrictions from the presses and thus remove a just cause for discontent. While on this subject, I cannot but express, my feelings at the way in which some of the Anglo Indian journals continue to write against Indians and Indian aspirations. The Government is ever ready to suppress a paper which points out its defects of administration and to class such writing as sedition; it is my firm belief that the insult and libelous terms daily hurled upon Indian leaders and the Indian masses, in several Anglo Indian journals go a long way in raising the anger and bitterness of Indian readers which sometimes lead to what is called sedition. I have known of several youngmen whose hearts have been burnt up with resentment and anger after reading certain Anglo Indian papers, whose profession has been the constant vilification of Indians. Freedom of the Press I believe in; liberty of opinions I am always advocating but every statement must be based on arguments and the writer ought to know its effect on the people. Do these journals understand that the Indians daily read these libels, do not take them as the opinions of certain individual editors but as the views of Englishmen generally and of the Government. That their writings instead of uniting tend towards alienation and that they actually thwart the purpose of several able Indian leaders and their followers who have entered the political arena simply to work hard to unite India and Britain and bring about a state of affairs under which Britons may not be classed as foreigners in India, either by themselves or by Indians but as true Indians working for good of India and the Empire. I urge such journals to change their attitude and policy towards Indians for the sake of the British Empire. I say that the existing policy of the Anglo Indian journals does no good to anybody; it does positive harm to the people of India and the Government and even to their own interests.
Hindus & Moslems in Sind.
Our province of Sind contains a large majority of Muhammadan population and the progress of our province must mainly depend upon unity and good will between the Muhammadans and the Hindus. Our province has been fortunate in so far as that relations between men of different faiths have been on the whole very friendly. No community in Sind is rigidly orthodox, owing in a measure, to existence of Sufistic influence and the relations between the communities are characterized by tolerance. And we must continue to strengthen the ties between these two communities more strongly than before. Government policy to give special for Muhammadan education must receive our cordial support from all. Large grant in-aid specially made to this community must not be looked upon any way as unfair to other communities. They need it more than others and the sooner the education spreads amongst our Muhammadan brethren, the better will it be for the whole province. We know what higher education among Muhammadan has done for other provinces. The Muhammadans are as emphatic in their demand for political freedom in those provinces as the Hindus and we should like to see the same spirit in Muhammadans of Sind also. Communal representation in Municipalities and Local Boards, if it satisfies the communities must be willingly allowed; as to public services we must realize that the Muhammadan as in a majority in this province and they must be given a greater share in the administration sooner or later; a few seats in our Municipal Boards or councils must not be looked upon by the Hindus with dissatisfaction. This will pay the province well within a short period.
I personally feel that the present policy of officials towards Muhammadans in Sind, whatever is its inspiration, is really guided by the loving hand of Province. Sind has to be ready to take its place in the front rank in India and all this must be taken as preparation for that period of glory.
On the other hand I must also urge my Muhammadan Brethren to act more united with other communities in matters pertaining to the progress of the Province; the adoption of a better attitude and the abandonment of “JO HUKUM” are essentially necessary in these days when the struggle to win self government for India is a settled programme of our work. Aloofness from such activities must in the long run act to their own disadvantage. Surely a few scholarships, posts of Mukhtiarkars, some Mullah schools, sweet words of officials, a few titles and honorary magistrateship can never be the goal of Muhammadans in Sindh. Many Muhammadans of the present generation, it is satisfactory to note, have realized the necessity of complete unity in all activities and I would urge them to devote some more time to educative work in the moffussil to awaken the mass and their fellow-brethren.
Education in Sind
In Sind, the state of our educational affairs is highly unsatisfactory. We have a very insufficient number of primary, middle or secondary schools. We have one solitary college but only for “Arts”; absolutely no means of acquiring sound technical, scientific, commercial, or agricultural education has been provided yet for Sindh. Our teachers are very poor paid. Even our coolies or sweepers are better paid; our text books are selected without much care or thought. Educationists in the real sense of the word hardly exist in Sind. The education department moves on in an automatic manner in same grooves as were cut thirty years ago, I do not see that the brains and the energy of educational officials in Sind are at all made use of. In a quiet corner of the cool city of Poona a Director of Public Instruction of Bombay Presidency is supposed to exist. In a quit little bunglow in civil lines at Karachi, a gentleman, styled the Educational Inspector is supposed to reside. I am doubtful if even this much is known about the Educational department to the public of Sind. The Educational Inspector is an unknown quantity; the deputies are merely known to teachers and some of the students as task masters; teachers in Sind are only known to students as some persons to keep them under control. Having some knowledge of education in ancient India and in western counties at present, I feel that the present system of education in Sind requires a great change. I believe much of time, energy and money is being wasted.
As it is, the education department in Sind is almost a “Pardah Nashin”. No one knows any thing about it. Every child in Sind possibly knows the Collector, or the Commissioner, but no one knows the Educational Inspector. He hardly is counting in Sind. For matters educational we are either referred to the Commissioner who knows very little of education or the Director Public Instruction, who is hardly in touch with the Province, being a thousand miles away and can know very little about Sind.
Friends, how long is this condition going to last? We must demand, I feel our own Director of Education in Sind who must be an eminent educationist and above all must know our people. He should be full of sympathy and should come in touch with every parent in Sind. He must be kept for years in Province, allowing him to rise according to his grade even if stationed in one post as the Director of Education in Sind. He must be directly responsible to the minister of education of the Presidency. Then alone, I feel our Sind will be able to get its full share of attention to improve this department both in matters of teaching and administration.
We must insist on a detailed scheme of right education for our children, boys and girls. The education of our girls is shamefully neglected in our Province and we must strongly agitate for greater attention being paid. Sind has along been unjustly treated in allocating budget amount for our education in comparison to other parts of the Presidency and we must now demand not only just proportion in the future but also all our dues.
I wish to speak a few words here with due respect to our Muhammadan Brethren in connection with their Mullah Schools. The present type of Mullah Schools does no good but does positive harm to development of Muhammadans in Sind. My Muhammadan friends, I urge you to open your eyes and be wide awake; speak out boldy that you do not want, you do not care for these old type of inefficient Mulla Schools; for religious education, insist on teaching religion to your children in regular schools or at home; this system of Mullah Schools will keep you ignorant and ever under bureaucracy because of want of sufficient secular education. You should demand that technical branches be attached to your schools; demand your teachers to be trained more rapidly, demand more pay for them, a better living wage for them and thus only will Sind rise up in full glory. I am glad to know that some of our Muhammadan leaders have realized this. I am told also that the educational department has already made useful suggestions to Government to take advantage of the present Mullah Schools and extend their scope by radical improvements. I do hope that Government will take immediate steps to improve the existing Mullah schools and put them on a more efficient basis. The want of an agricultural, a commercial and a technical College for Sind is urgent and great, and I hope, in the next budget it will be cheerfully sanctioned by the Government. I fell that if the Government and the educational department will openly take the public into confidence, with regards to education schemes now under consideration, rapid results can easily be achieved and hearty public responses relied upon. There is one important suggestion which I venture to make with a few to ensure a better understanding of our educational needs by the people of the province and that is that report of the Educational Inspector of Sind should be published for general information and not only a few strong extracts from it put in the Presidency report as is done at present. And then friends, along with the progress of education in all its branches we must begin to get ready for our own Sind University. The day for it, I assure you, is not distant and we must keep in mind that before long we shall see the stately domes of the Sind University rising against the sky, on the Clifton shore between Keamari and Clifton.
National Education in Sind
Friends, let us welcome warmly the establishment of National Educational Institutions in our Province. As you know a National University and a Society for the promotion of National Education, governed by well known men and ladies of India have been established since the last two years. It certainly does not aim to replace all the present educational institutions in India. For the present it aims at an experiment to arrive at a correct method as to the basis of education for Indians and to remove the defects in the present system, which has been productive of such great dissatisfaction and discontent. It aims to encourage the full and free growth of all the capacities of our boys and girls and thus to serve as a model for Government and other educational institutions. Owing to old established views on education that have taken their lodgement in the minds of people, and its complete severance from official control, the National education movement in India is bound to meet for some time with almost overwhelming difficulties and therefore is the greater reason why we Indians must help it, the more at the present stage. Let us remember that the first few years, all workers, helpers and students will be called upon to make sacrifice of money, energy and possibly career; the National Institutions will have to undergo the fire of criticisms and adverse reports, and therefore I urge all our Sindhi mothers, sisters, fathers and guardians to stand by them and help. At present there is a central Sind National College started on the bank of FuleliCanal in Hyderabad Sind, a school at Hyderabad, and a Pathshalla at Karachi. Various sacrificing professors and teachers are giving their energy. It can have no official help just yet. It cannot naturally reach an ideal stage soon but we must for India’s sake welcome those and consider our province fortunate in having the National Educational Institutions, much earlier than any several other provinces. National Educational Institutions are sure to be established all over Sind as soon as opportunity permits. Friends, I beg each of you therefore to help the movement and sacrifice daily even a pie, an anna or a rupee or more for this purpose. Begging from a Presidential Chair may be somewhat out of place, but I do it with full of consciousness, feeling as I do its urgent necessity for the development of the movement in Sind.
Agriculture and Zamindari Problems in Sind
Our province is mainly an agricultural province and more than two-thirds of its population lives by tilling the land. It behoves us therefore to attend to the various problems connected with agriculture and the life of the Zamindars in Sind.
The relations between the agriculturist in Sind and the Government so far as revenue matters are concerned, are mostly governed by what are known as the Commissioner’s Special Circulars and our first complaint is about them. So far as I have inquired I find that these circulars have not been issued under any Act and thus lack legal authority. Their legality was even doubted by an experienced high official as can be seen from his evidence before the Decentralization Commission. But besides our objection as to their legality, the general complaint of our Zamindar is that in framing the circulars, the Zamindar’s point of view have not been and are not being taken into consideration, I consider it therefore an absolute necessity and nothing but fair that the Government should revise these circulars in consultation with educated and representative Zamindars. It is indeed to be regretted that at the last session of the Bombay Council, when Hon. Mr. Bhurgri suggested that the revision of the circulars be entrusted to a committee of officials and non-officials, the Government did not agree to the proposal but said that the Commissioner in Sind in revising the circulars will act in accordance with the usual practice and policy of Government and take into consideration the interest of the classes affected. The Government often complain of not receiving cooperation of the public and here we have a definite refusal by the Government itself of the offer of Zamindars to cooperate with officials in revising the Commissioner’s Circulars. I still hope our present Governor will see his way to accept the Zamindars’ offer as it will save a great deal of dissatisfaction.
One of the sorest grievances of the Zamindars and the cultivators of Sindh, of very long standing is the demoralizing evil known as the Rasai system and the associated evils of Lapo and Cher. Complaints yet reach of the continuance of Rasai, Lapo and Cher; though it is satisfactory to note that some of the officials are strictly avoiding these and are endeavouring to repress them with a strong hand. Exactly an year ago a Committee was appointed to suggest measures for the suppression of these disgraceful practices. I would not now care much to speak about some very objectionable and unfair features of the proceedings of that Committee. But I do strongly protest at the inordinate delay made in publishing the report of the Committee. Although the evidence was finished in May last not even the printing of it was completed until the last month.
The Committee has yet to prepare its report. The matter is of vital importance and I hope, the report will now be ready and published soon; and now that the gravity of the evils and their wide prevailance and its real causes have been established without the slightest doubt, by the overwhelming official and non-official evidence, Government will take immediate steps to suppress the evils, calling upon all the higher officials to make serious and persistent efforts in removing the evils.
The Cooperative movement was originally started in Sind more than 13 years ago, I learn by Mr. Wali Muhammad Hussonally,; but partly owing to peculiar conditions of Sind, it did not make great headway until quite recently. The appointment of a separate Assistant Registrar for Sind has brought about a striking change. The number of Cooperative Societies in Sind has increased literally by leaps and bounds, until today they are well over 120. The movement is one of immense potentialities and if properly developed it will have very great effect on the agricultural and industrial life of Sind. Its indirect moral and educative influence on the people is of no less importance. The indefatigable efforts of Mr. Azim Khan, the Assistant Registrar of the Cooperative credit Societies in Sind have resulted in the starting of the Sind Cenrtal Cooperative Bank at Karachi, which will finance the various Cooperative Credit Societies in Sind, and I feel very hopeful that with the assistance and cooperation of the educated and mercantile community, the bank and the societies which it finances, will be able to do their part in serving Sind. We must friends; whole heartedly render our best assistance, financial and other to this cooperative movement which I regard as one of the root remedies of many of the ills of the agricultural population.
I think it is not necessary for me to go into details of those Zamindari problems relating problems to Remission Rules, Fallow Rules and the period of land settlement. These important questions have been treated so thoroughly at the previous Conferences that I do not feel I can add anything more to arguments put forward before you, year after year. The period of settlement has lately been increased from 10 to 20 years but I do hope that before long this period will be lengthened to 30 years. The Fallow Rules I understand, have been slightly amended but we must carry on an unabated agitation for their radical amendment and also for the substitution of a more liberal remission rules.
I cannot pass over this question which has been for a long time past a subject of complain in Sind and which had been brought forward for discussion at the last Session of Bombay Provincial Council. The utility of the Durbar system itself is open to question; but chair-system in the sense that non-durbaris are not regarded as eligible for a chair when visiting officials is clearly indefensible. I am surprised that a committee is to be appointed by the Government for this subject. It is a matter of ordinary and good manners that a chair be offered to any member of the public who visits an official either for business or any other purpose, and I do not see what will a Committee do? A direct instruction or an order to the officials in Sind should be issued by the Governor in Council pointing out that this practice of asking visitors whether they are eligible for chair is highly annoying to the people, that it must be immediately discontinued and the ordinary rules of etiquette to offer a chair to members of the public must be strictly observed. Offering a chair, to a visitor whether he is eligible for it in the Official Darbar or not, cannot in the least come in the way of the prestige or the dignity of the officials.
If this practice is not abolished I would certainly go to the length of suggesting our Sindhis to refuse Durbar invitations and entirely stop visiting officials.
The Government of India and of Bombay have treated Sind most unfairly so far as Canals are concerned. Sind which is most in need of water and canals has received the least attention. Even though pointed out by eminent experts that Canal projects carried out in the Punjaub without adequate measures being taken to insure proper supply of water to Sind, would be detrimental to our province on scientific and technical grounds, the Government practically gave a deaf ear to such warnings. Several schemes have been prepared over and over again for constructing more canals and for securing more water to agricultural land in Sind but in spite of the passage of many years, no actual work has been commenced. They are still projects on paper. The Sukkur Barrage scheme, the most urgent necessity of Sind is still hanging fire and in the meantime the condition of our agriculturists is growing worse, our zamindars are dragged down with debts and in consequence the agriculture suffers with shortage of food, high price and even famine.
Whilst on the subject of Canals, I cannot but express our extreme dissatisfaction at the meager allotment budgeted for irrigation in the last session of the Imperial Council; a huge sum of seventeen million pounds was allotted to Railways but for Canals only one and half millions. I do admit the importance of efficient railways but at present in India we want food before anything else.
The Government projects and schemes on account of official routine system, always proceed slow and the perpetual tumbling block of “no finances” always comes in the way and I therefore suggest that the canals in India be allowed to be constructed and developed by private enterprise and capital. There will be no difficulty for us in Sind and anywhere in India to float Joint-stock companies to construct Canals and supply water to agriculturists on easy terms; all such schemes just as is done in cases of light Railway Companies can be placed before the Government for it sanction. Option may be given to the Government to buy up canals from the companies after a period of fifteen or twenty years. Each Company may be granted a span of few miles and joint arrangements similar to those of Railway Companies can be made for water supply by different canal companies throughout the area. A special canal Committee of experts should be appointed to work out various detail schemes for canals in all parts of India and opportunities should be given to private capitalists and financiers to float the Canal Companies and take up construction works without delay. I am sure within a few years we can thus make a marvelous headway in irrigational development in India; the Indian capital and labour will thus be more fully and usefully employed, the young men of India will find a larger scope for utilization of their energy, our impoverished masses will be able to get abundent food and perhaps famine shall be no more.
My friends, I have come to the end of my Presidential discourse; all throughout the address I have attempted to paint the Government, the officials and ourselves, friends and opponents, in colours in which I can see; whether they are true or false, how far true or how far false, I leave to your judgment. I will not be ashamed to own my misjudgment and correct myself if at any time, I am so convinced.
I am a dreamer and an idealist and I dream of a glorious India along with a glorious world. I am one of those who believe Providence will not allow us to stand still if we desire to work for our growth. Our country has awakened once again and until its struggles for its place in the present civilization are over, it will not rest.
I feel anxious at present for more than one reason but I am not despondent; but I feel and urge the necessity of a cool brain side by side with a strong mind and will; let us make due allowance for the present stage of human nature and its limitations, and above all let us trust in God and His Agents. Let us feel the hand of Providence which is everywhere and we will be a free Nation before long, standing side by side with all other nations. I feel that the day when we will stand as equal partners in the British Empire is not far away. I would however beg of you to feel that “SWARAJ or HOME RULE” does not mean our salvation or the end of our unhappiness and misery. I would urge you not to be deluded with the mire of Self Government. Do we not see that Home Rule in England or America has not ended miseries or unhappiness there? Poverty, disease and even autocracy have not ended in England, Canada, America or Australia; slums do not appear to have vanished; hungry faces are still to be seem by thousands. Strikes, labour unrest, bitter party agitation and hatred, religious bigotry have not ended. Capitalists’ ambition to keep the labour suppressed is yet dominant. Turn where you will in the world and you find the one common cause of all miserlyman’s own greed and selfishness to earn money, become rich and secure happiness at the expense of others; and unless man is prepared to change his innerself, his mental condition and his heart, no form of self Government or Home Rule can bring happiness in any country. I do urge friends, that we who aspire to gain Swaraj should be really prepared to give freedom and allow full opportunities to those whom Providence has brought around us within the sphere of our influence in whatever way. Thus alone shall we save our Bharat Land from strikes, famine and unrest. I would urge yon to study the growth of such towns as Port Sunlight, Delectaland and Bradford in England or Dayton in the United States of America and see if we cannot attempt to bring about the co-operation of capital and labour in however humble a way in our own surroundings and sphere to make mankind happier.
When I read and study the various schemes now being worked in some of the cities of Europe and America, for the welfare of every mother and child in those cities, for aged persons, for the blind and the maimed, for providing healthy homes for all poor persons, for the moral improvement of every man and woman, my heart leaps with joy and yet at the same time with sorrow-I have often sadly murmured, “My land, My motherland when shall such a day come for thee?”
And my brothers and sisters, therefore do I feel that the real ultimate goal of life is not self-Government which is but a means to that goal. Side by side we have to fix our eyes towards something higher, much nobler, more powerful, more lasting nay Eternal.
I would also urge not to work upon the maxim “India for Indians only.” We must not take a narrow sense of that expression. India must be not only for Indians but for all those who make India their Home. Let there be no limit as to who can be an Indian. We do not want foreign exploiters to draw away the wealth of India but we would welcome all who make India their own country and work for its welfare as any Indian would. Let us make our country a melting pot for all to become Indians and no one shall remain as a “foreigner” in India; This is the true tradition of our Bharat Land; our scriptures, our Spiritual Teachers have taught us these essentials of happy natural life; and whatever be the struggles for political freedom let us not forget these noble lessons of our Great Teachers without which our land shall never achieve true greatness. How happy would India be if the Britons in India did not remain as mere foreigners as they do at present but would willingly become Indians at Heart and true Christians by faith.
Before I sit down, my last words, my hope, my appeal to you my friends: let us work together and work hard to make our India once again glorious as in the past, the Land of the Great Devas, the Sages, the Rishis, and the Prophet; then shall truly India’s mission of Swaraj or Home Rule be fulfilled.
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